My silent missive hurtled into the universe.
Please make this morning different.
In just over two short weeks, muscle memory has already taken control. The floor meets my left foot. No weight—just contact. Breathe in, swivel my right leg, breathe out. Flatten both hands on the bed for leverage. Prepare to stand. The first spikes of pain surge through my left wrist and forearm. Get.off.the.left.hand.NOW. Even muscle memory makes miskakes early on.
Sit down. Breathe. In or out—at this point just breathe. Gingerly bring some weight onto the left foot. OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD. Stabilize. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Bring the right foot to the floor. Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee. Hurry up but do it slowly.
Please make this morning different.
Square the right foot. Stand. HOLYSHIT HOLYSHIT HOLYSHIT. And I'm out of control lurching first left then right. Need clothes, don't wake him, it's Saturday, it's too early, don't yell, don't swear, keep gritting your teeth. Four steps—halfway there.
Today is different.
I don't make it.
I list to the right and my leg collapses. I reach for the bed, right hand slamming down onto the comforter. I lean. And I breathe.
Four more steps, put on the hiking boots. Left boot first then, for the love of all things dear to my heart, find a way to get the right one on to protect that ankle. Grab the sweatpants and fleece jacket, pivot, BREATHE, hobble to the door, grab the cane in the wrong hand. Quietly open the door, grasp the frame, pitch out of the bedroom, and gently close the door. Hold onto the walls, the table, any flat surface. Keep on moving. Get to the bathroom.
The only comfort the bathroom offers is relief from a full bladder.
It's a start.
Sitting down requires that I stand up again.
I have no idea how this happened. Sadly, the finest medical minds here in the hinterlands not only don't understand how it happened, they can't agree about how to treat whatever it is that has happened.
Day 1 Emergency Department.
"There's so much arthritis and scarring in the right ankle, I can't really see all I'd like to see. It doesn't appear to be broken. Likely ligament strain. The radiologist will reread the films. If you don't get a call within 24 hours, nothing is broken. Wear the boot, use crutches or the cane—figure out what works best. Rest, ice, compression, elevate."
I know this drill. Been 8 years since das boot. Only a few months since the last strain. I listen, nod, do as he says, and remain reserved about the diagnosis. This doesn't feel like any strain I've ever had. The degree and type of pain feel exactly the same as I experienced when I broke a bone in this foot in 2003.
Day 6 (yes 6) Osteopath's Office: Visit #1.
"The talus seems to have slid slightly forward. As a result, your arch had begun to fall. I've moved it back. Get out of the boot and you should be fine."
"Fine as in painfree fine?"
Out of the boot and into a pair of sneakers. Scurrying from point A to B in the house. My 5'10" frame curled over in pain protecting the right ankle.
Back into the boot on Friday morning. Make another call. It's not right. Come in at 2.
Day 7 Osteopath's Office: Visit #2.
My admiration and respect for you are not enough to prevent me from tearing off your head and shoving it up your rectum.
Long discussion followed by a decision to get back into the boot and get an MRI at 6 unholy o'clock on Monday morning.
The doc called at 10 on a Monday morning. I know this can't be good.
"Well, you have a non-displaced distal tibia fracture as well as a deltoid ligament strain. Stay in the boot. We'll get you referred to an orthopedist."
In my mind's eye, I'm dancing with glee. A diagnosis. It's not all in my head. I can do this. I can do this. At least with a diagnosis, I'll know what to do and what to avoid. Fractures take a range of time to heal; so do ligaments. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not lightning bolts of pain.
Day 12 Orthopod's Office.
"We seem to be having a problem with our online systems. We can't retrieve your x-rays or MRI."
"I was told to bring them."
"Let me go take a look and I'll be right back."
Sitting in the wheelchair, list of questions in hand, I wait. I'm finding that wheelchairs are comfortable even when the footrests don't lock. I rock them back and forth while I wait. I'm easily amused.
"I don't see anything out of place. I don't understand why the radiologist would document a stress fracture when there's clearly nothing wrong. I don't know why anyone would tell you your ankle was riddled with scarring and arthritis. I'm not seeing anything like that."
The visit lasts a while. In the end, he hypothesizes that there may be a systemic inflammation or perhaps rheumatoid arthritis.
When he leaves, the first tears finally fall.
I was born a Caucasian Gumby. Folks envy my flexibility not understanding that lax ligaments create unstable joints. I've sprained and torn that right ankle up a bazillion times in my almost 54 years (it's the 20th and yes I do expect a large party this year, thank you).
At the outset, my left ankle and left wrist were fine. The combination of crutches, cane, weak muscles, and too much pressure on both joints has cascaded into a world of hurt in joints that were once working. Even wearing my wrist brace couldn't stop the progression of strain into my elbow causing tendinitis in my forearm. Logically, I can clearly point to cause and effect for the swelling and pleaseshootmenow pain in my left limbs. I still have no idea what caused the injury and pleaseKILLmenow pain in the right ankle. A misstep during my Wii routine on an already unstable ankle? If so, I never felt it. At this point, I don't care. I just want the pain to stop.
Thursday night I decided to pick a diagnosis and a treatment plan. I went with the first diagnosis and got out of the boot. Since no one had actually offered a treatment plan, I made up my own. I'd already been subconsciously using it during the day when RM wasn't home. With a plan, it's important to inform those around you that things are changing. I laid it out for him so he wouldn't be surprised. He pretended not to hear me. He's funny like that.
The first time I deployed my plan, he jumped and came running to find out if I was okay. I was no more okay than I'd been for over 12 days. I was just employing the strategy that had seemed to help my grandmother.
When the pain becomes unbearable, I swear. Loudly and often. When that's not enough, I make noises usually associated with very large animals in the African Savanna.
How's it working? About as well as the Advil and Tylenol with one exception: sometimes I smile. The smile comes from my inner 19-year old. As luck would have it, I'm able to draw on old memories and can once again string together sentences of sheer eloquence composed entirely of single and polysyllabic words I don't use around my mother.
Am I cranky from being in agonizing pain and unable to drive for over 2 weeks? Which of you &#+*$@?!=/^%#&$*@\()s wants to know?